Maryland Chicken Manure Regulations: A Stakeholder Analysis

     Each year, Maryland’s Eastern Shore chicken-raising farms produce nearly 330,000 tons of poultry litter (manure and bedding). Most of this waste is sent to nearby crops as inexpensive fertilizer, yet excess phosphorus from the manure has been seeping into the Chesapeake Bay, causing algae blooms and fish “dead zones” (Calvert 2015). Therefore, based on the advice of scientists, former Governor Martin O’Malley enacted an executive order to decrease the amount of chicken manure allowed on crops by approximately 228,000 tons (Calvert 2015). 
     On January 21, however, Governor Larry Hogan replaced O’Malley and stopped these farm-pollution regulations just before their implementation (Calvert 2015). In this essay, I use stakeholder analysis tools to identify the stakeholders and apply Yukl’s framework to examine sources of power (position, personal, or political) (1998). I then use the model shown in Bourne and Walker (2005: 656) to map stakeholders’ impact, distance, and scale of influence. The analysis shows that while assessing sources of power is critical, other factors such as influence, distance, and impact facilitate a richer understanding of stakeholders’ roles in political decisions.
     Stakeholders are subjects that are able to affect or be affected by an issue (Bourne and Walker 2005), and numerous stakeholders accompany every issue. In this instance, the agricultural community (chicken growers and crop farmers), residents of the Chesapeake Bay area, and local Bay cleanup advocates will be directly impacted by the rule, while University of Maryland scientists, regional environmentalists, the EPA, MD senator Pinsky, and, most importantly, Governor Hogan have the capacity to influence decisions. 
     According to Yukl (1998), position power comes from organizational authority and formal control over punishments, information, and ecology. In this case, the EPA sets pollution goals, such as cleanup targets for less phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment in the Bay by 2017 and has the power to punish states that fail to meet requirements. UMD scientists control the types of experiments and information distributed about manure pollution. Personal power stems from human relationships and expertise (Yukl 1998), so both chicken growers and crop farmers have power in the decision-making process because they understand the everyday economic implications of the rule. Finally, political power relies on institutionalization and control over decision-making processes over formal objectives (Yukl 1998). Senator Pinksy is exercising his political power as he investigates ways to mandate the implementation of the phosphorus restrictions. Governor Hogan already demonstrated his power to control the decision-making process. Dividing stakeholders into these groups demonstrates how stakeholders acquire power. 
     While identifying sources of power is useful, each stakeholder also gains power with various degrees of influence, impact, and distance from the issue. Figure 1 depicts these elements for each stakeholder. Concentric lines show the distance from the issue, piece size represents the scale of influence, and color density is the degree of impact. Governor Hogan is the darkest piece near the center because he already had an immense impact by halting the rule, is highly influential for residents as an elected official, and his extreme interest has situated him close to the issue. 
     The agricultural community is also close to the center because decisions directly impact their businesses. If chicken growers cannot give their litter to local farmers, then they will have to pay companies to haul the waste. Michelle Protani, for example, claims she will have to pay $30,000 a year to have 1,000 tons of chicken litter removed (Calvert 2015). Without manure as fertilizer, farmers will have to buy more expensive fertilizer for their fields. Kevin Anderson calculated this would cost him $187,000 annually for his 2,800-acre farm (Calvert 2015). The agricultural community has limited direct impact, but as a key economic sector in the state they have collective power to influence policy decisions. 
     Bay cleanup advocates and residents also sit in close proximity because dead zones directly affect their communities, but advocates have more influence and impact because they can distribute scientific information to persuade the public and officials. Senator Pinsky has limited influence in the community but is seeking to mandate the policy’s implementation by bypassing Hogan’s power. The EPA, regional environmentalists, and UMD scientists heavily influence stakeholders but do not directly impact decisions and remain distant from the causes and effects of chicken manure. This mapping exercise combined with power source classification creates a more holistic understanding of stakeholder capacities.
Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 9.19.44 PMFigure 1. Stakeholder circle depicting stakeholders in chicken manure regulations and their distance from the issue, scale of influence, and degree of influence (Bourne and Walker 2005: 656). Unlike Bourne and Walker, this image does not include homogeneity.

References

Bourne, Lynda, and Derek H.T. Walker. 2005. “Visualizing and Mapping Stakeholder Influence.” Management Decision 43(5): 651-69.

Bullock, Graham. 2015. Stakeholders and Values. January 20. Lecture presented at Davidson College, Davidson.

Calvert, Scott. 2015. “Stricter Farm-Pollution Ruels Nixed in Maryland.” The Wall Street Journal, January 22. http://www.wsj.com/article_email/stricter-farm-pollution-rules-nixed-in-maryland-1421979598-lMyQjAxMTI1NDI5MzAyNjM5Wj (January 24, 2015).

Yukl, G. 1998. Leadership in Organizations. Sydney: Prentice-Hall.

 

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